Monday, June 9, 2014

Things to Guard Against in the Middle Years

I wise woman I knew used to say, “The further I go, the less I know.” That’s how I feel right now. I’m acutely aware of just how much I have to learn, so I don’t feel ready to offer advice.

But I do know that we all struggle. Maybe not in exactly the same way, but we usually have more in common than we realize. I’ve noticed some tendencies in myself that I need to guard against. Maybe one or two of them will be familiar to you.

Feeling Useless

I used to be an expert on lots of things. Not anymore. I’ve made enough mistakes to see that I am not as smart as I thought I was, and I still have much to learn.

It’s tempting to use that as an excuse not to reach out. Sometimes it’s shame. Sometimes it’s pride (because I’d rather not have to tell you mistakes I’ve made). Sometimes it’s self protection (because I don’t want to be ignored in the way I use to ignore older women).

We’ve actually got plenty of Scripture that tells us just the opposite. Titus 2:3-5, 2 Corinthians 1:4, and Romans 8:28 don’t let us off the hook. These life experiences—even our mistakes—have a purpose. We can use them to encourage others in the body of Christ.

Being Unteachable

It’s already happened a few times, and it’s just going to get worse. Some young adult, someone so young that they could be my child, is standing before me in a teaching capacity. What can I possibly learn from them?

As it turns out, quite a bit. Anybody who is faithfully teaching the Bible is going to have something to say to all ages. And because we’ve lived different lives and experienced different joys and heartaches, we all have fresh perspectives. If I dismiss someone just because they’re too young, I miss out on an opportunity to learn, and the chance to encourage them.

Being Cynical

Scripture tells us that all of us our born sinners. If you’ve lived to middle age, you’ve seen it firsthand. People do bad things. People hurt us. People are slow to change.

Believers should know better than anyone how drastically the Holy Spirit can change a person. For us to then adopt the attitude that people never change besmirches the gospel.

I don’t think I’ve put it too strongly. I get it. Life can weary us. But Philippians 1:6 promises that God finishes what he starts. That goes not only for us, but for other Christians too. I could be quite foolish when I was young. (Who am I kidding? I can be foolish now.) God will do his work in others, just as he did in me.

What about you? What tendencies are you trying to guard against in your life?


  1. Hmmm, this is a good question that makes me look hard at myself. Well I didn't have to look too hard because I know where i struggle... Some times I think I KNOW. IT. ALL. "I have been through that let me tell you how to deal with it" kind of attitude. Some times it takes a lot of tongue biting to keep my mouth shut and just listen... {{sigh}} thanks for letting me get that out there! :)

  2. These are great points. I think I have struggled with all of these at times, including what Joyful mentioned above. Sometimes I also struggle with feeling young women need to learn what I learned the way I learned it, but need to remind myself that God will teach them in the ways He knows are best suited to them.

  3. Enjoying all of these posts on midlife. I think there needs to be some sort of conference/retreat to prepare women for this time!